06/29/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011


In our current preoccupation with derivatives and other non-productive financial instruments, we are ignoring the Great American Advantage that exists in our small businesses and entrepreneurs. It is a statistical fact that most wealth and jobs are created by small and medium-sized business.

There are several economic facts that make it imperative that we start paying more attention to this highly productive opportunity. It's time to take a long cool look at economic conditions, and start concentrating on those areas that can be most productive, not only for a select few, but the entire world of American business.

I have always felt that in order for an entrepreneur to be successful he must find a need and fill it. These needs are all around us, if we but look for them. And we must continually expand our markets.

For many years Americans have either ignored or feared the world of export. The economic fact is that in 2010 the American dollar is very cheap. When the American dollar loses value, it is a boon to American exports. A cheap dollar makes all American merchandise more competitive, and an expensive dollar makes that same merchandise more expensive in the global marketplace.

There is a worldwide demand for anything American. People around the world, if they cannot get to America, would at least like to live like Americans. Our music and motion pictures are universal in their appeal. There is an unparalleled demand for American entertainment.

This in turn leads to a huge demand for the American brand (e.g. iPhones, iPods, Blackberry, Google, Yahoo) and has created this tremendous need that did not even exist 20 years ago. All manner of American equipment and merchandise have an insatiable marketplace in stores and shops around the world. Add this to the ability to actually sell on the Internet both on a wholesale and retail basis, bringing unparalleled opportunity to American suppliers.

I have dealt in the international marketplace for the past 60 years. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were two of the greatest proponents of removing trade barriers thereby creating incentives that make Americans more export conscious. I remember about 30 years ago the United States government had a remarkable incentive to encourage American exports; a 50% tax savings on profits created by selling overseas.

I participated directly in this effort when President Reagan invited me to join an American trade mission to Japan to promote and encourage American exports to that country. There were 10 entrepreneurs and no attention was paid to whether we were Republicans or Democrats. We were all interested in getting the job done to make it easier for Americans to export. As big as the opportunity was then, it is far greater now. Today more than ever we need to encourage Americans to participate and prosper in world trade.

There is a huge market outside of the United States anxious and waiting for all kinds of American products. Many countries particularly China and Japan enjoy a surplus of American dollars. The people in those countries want to sing American songs, wear American clothing, and use our high tech equipment. There should be a united effort to educate and incentivize our businesspeople and make it all happen. The result will be more jobs, and greater opportunities

Most people are not aware of the tremendous opportunities that exist in international trade. We live in a global marketplace. Our government should set the stage for free and fair trade. We must realize that when we set restrictions on imports, foreign governments will control the amount of merchandise that can be purchased from the United States. At present our imports are far greater than our exports. We need to strive to balance our exports with imports and create greater opportunities for American manufacturers to sell their merchandise on the foreign marketplace.

In 1975 I was manufacturing ballpoint pens in New York City and selling them throughout the United States. A European distributor contacted us for our product to sell in the European Common Market. Conditions were much the same as they are today. The American dollar was cheap which made our products more competitive. Very shortly we were selling more pens in Europe than in the United States.

Today it is much easier to find customers and suppliers. A simple search on the Internet identifies prospects in a matter of seconds. Contacting vendors and customers is far simpler through e-mail and responses are instantaneous. We must expand our thinking. There is a huge market out there. It is up to us to seize the initiative. It is all part of the Great American Advantage.